You worship you know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. – John 4:22
Verse 22 – Ye worship that which (not “him whom”) ye know not. “That which” points to the essence and inner character of the object of their worship. They gave him a name, but they were comparatively ignorant of, and confessedly hostile as a people to, the revelation that the Father had made. They fell back on a past of rigid orthodoxy but of limited range. They rejected every portion of the Old Testament with the exception of the Pentateuch, i.e. the entire historical treatment of the primeval faith; even that very essence of it which involved the progressive and expanding conception of the character of God – the perpetuity and continuous renovation of relations, the prophetic insight into providence, the sublime liturgy of a ceaseless worship, the prediction of a Messianic glory which, in the fulness of the times, should complete and complement all that preceded. They were, by their prejudices and hostility, kept ignorant of and unacquainted with the Name that was above every name. In contradistinction from this, we Jews, to whom as a nation you rightly conclude I belong, and as a representative of whom I speak – We worship that which we know. Christ in this place, more distinctly perhaps than in any portion of the four Gospels, places himself as a worshipper side by side with his hearers. Here, moreover, he identifies himself with the Jews – becomes their interpreter and mouthpiece and representative. When a question arises, which of the two has the larger amount of truth, Jew or Gentile, Jew or Samaritan, he pronounced in stringent terms in favour of the Jew. The revelation advancing beyond the narrow limitations of Samaritan nationality as to place, and time, and historic fact, with its pregnant ritual, has revealed the Father to us Jews, in thisrespect and because the salvation of which Moses partly dreamed, but which has been the burden of every prophecy and psalm – the “salvation” which gives meaning to all our knowledge, is from (ἐκ, not “belonging to,” but “proceeding from,” John 1:46; John 7:22, 52) the Jews. The Jews have been the school where the highest lessons have been taught, the richest experiences felt, the noblest lives lived, the types and shadows of good things to come most conspicuous. We cannot avoid reading between the lines the sublime enthusiasm which Paul gathered from this class of teaching (“To whom pertaineth the adoption,…and covenant,…whose are the fathers, and to whom were committed the oracles of God,… and from whom as concerning the flesh Christ came”). The utterance is profoundly significant, as it is a powerful repudiation of the theory which makes the author of this Fourth Gospel a Gentile of the second century, with a Gnostic antipathy to Judaism and Jews. The contradiction to this theory indubitably involved in this verse has led to the wildest conjectures – even the suggestion of a Jewish gloss on some ancient manuscripts of the Gospel has been one desperate device to save the theory. Taut pis pour les fairs.
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